Startup’s App for Competitive Exams Touches Five Million Downloads and Rs 85 Lakh Turnover
Getting a government job is the ultimate dream of many youth living in small towns in the country. But preparing for the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), Staff Selection Commission (SSC), Railways, or Bank PO (Probationary Officers) exams is a big challenge. Coaching classes are not an option for many because they can’t afford the high fees.
But now a Gurgaon based edtech startup’s app, Online Tyari is providing study material for the general knowledge and current affairs papers for those preparing for competitive exams.
The app has got both free and paid versions (Tyari Plus). More than five million users have downloaded the app, which includes around 20,000 paid subscribers, who receive premium content. The company, formed in 2014, registered a turnover of Rs 85 lakh in 2017-18.
“Many of our subscribers have cleared various competitive exams with the help of the materials and the online coaching we offer,” says Bhola Meena, 35, one of the co-founders of Next Door Private Limited, which developed the app.
Online Tyari conducts regular mock tests for its subscribers, which helps users to periodically assess their own proficiency levels. “We also provide counseling and guidance to students, and advise them to give exams which have more jobs to offer, so that their chance of selection is higher,” says Bhola
Many like Ram, a 24-year-old from a small town, have found government jobs, thanks to the app. Ram got the job of assistant station master in the Railways. He had limited means and a basic phone, but he used the app that was installed on a friend’s smartphone and prepared for the exams.
Bhola, a former Microsoft employee, shares the back story of Online Tyari. “Back in 2012 many relatives were preparing for various competitive exams. There were coaching institutes for UPSC exams, but not for other exams,” says Bhola. “Moreover, I noticed that the trend was shifting from hand-written exams to computer based exams and I felt the coaching institutes were not keeping pace with the changes.” He smelt a business opportunity.
Bhola hails from a conservative family in Kota, Rajasthan. Both his parents were government employees and their only wish was that their son too should get a government job.
But Bhola had other plans. He joined Microsoft after his BTech from IIT Kanpur. Six years later, he quit his job and started ‘Get Me Cab’, a call based cab service in Delhi in 2011. “The company was doing well, but competition increased after arrival of Uber and Ola. So I sold the company for a profit and exited the business,” he reveals.
When he sensed an opportunity in coaching for competitive exams, he did some research and collected more information. Most exams had questions on current affairs, but the books available in the market were published only annually.
By the time the aspirants took the exam, the contents in the book would be dated. The current affairs section had to be updated constantly and what else would serve the purpose better than an app.
Bhola joined with three other friends, Rajveer Meena, Vipin Agarwal and Amit Jaiswal, and incorporated Next Door Private Limited in 2014. The quartet invested around Rs one crore over a period of 16 months and created an online platform for government job aspirants.
In August 2015 the company received its first round of seed funding of Rs 5 crore from Tandem Capital and Globevestor amongst others. In 2016 they raised another Rs 20 crores in funding from Globevestor, Dell Foundation, and 3one4 Capital.
“This money has been used for product, technology and content development. It is pushing us for higher revenue model. Over the past four years we have made our model self-sustaining and growing by multiples every year,” says Rajveer, 36, who holds a BTech in computer science.
Rajveer’s father worked as an accountant in the defence department. “My dad always wanted me to serve the government; hence I worked at Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited for 18 months,” he says. “As I wasn’t happy with the work, I resigned, and did my MBA from IIM Lucknow. In 2010 I joined RAMCO Systems in Chennai.”
He was drawing a six figure salary in 2012 when he reconnected with Bhola, an old friend, and decided to launch Online Tiyari.
Over time, a couple of founders left the company, leaving Rajeev and Bhola to run the organization with Nishit Mathur and Apurv Chawla who are now part of Online Tyari’s leadership team. They have three offices - in Delhi, Gurgaon and Jaipur - and 58 employees work in the company.
The company makes additional revenue by selling e-books of major publishers like Disha, Arihant and Upkar, which specialize in competitive exam course material. They receive a commission on each book sold via their app.
Subscribers to their Tyari Plus app pay Rs 1499 per annum to access educational material and get daily current affairs updates. “We provide the content in English, Hindi and Marathi. We are planning to add three languages including Telugu,” says Rajveer.
Rajveer shares the company’s motto, “Money alone is not our objective. We are trying to sustainably solve problems for students. We always go out of our ways to reach out to the socially backward or poor students and bring them to a level where they can compete with the best talent.”